Art History @ 100 Oral History Project

James Watrous works on a sketch featuring a horse and human figures
James Watrous drafting a mosaic. University Archives Image #S09120

The Oral History Program is proud to help the department of Art History celebrate 100 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1925, Professor Oskar F. Hagen established the Department of Art History and Criticism with the goal of creating, “an institute of research of a calibre which would be outstanding in the United States and which is the standard in the best universities of Europe.” Initially teaching all of the courses himself, he began to build the department after a trip to Europe in search of a professor of medieval art. 

From the beginning, Hagen had the dream of creating a Fine Arts Museum in Madison. This goal was eventually realized by Professor James Watrous in 1970, who established what is today the Chazen Museum of Art and the Kohler Art Library. The building also houses the Art History Department, which continues to encourage innovation and scholarship in the field to this day. This project interviews six professors in the department who study a vast range of subjects, from Moroccan metal works to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Oral History Interviews

Anna Andrzejewski 

Anna Andrzejewski stands by a fireplace in front of a group of students in a mid-century modern home, lecturing
Anna Andrzejewski in the Katherine and Herbert Jacobs House. Photo by Chris Slaby, February 2016.

Professor of Art and Architectural History

Professor Andrzejewski speaks on her career teaching American vernacular architectural and art history. Topics include establishing field schools in collaboration with faculty at other UW campuses, collaborating with the Chipstone Foundation, coming to terms with Frank Lloyd Wright’s domineering legacy in the field, digitization and technology in the classroom and research, and how her research has and has not changed over her time at UW. 

Barbara Buenger

Emeritus Professor of Art History

Professor Buenger describes her career in teaching and researching Modern European art, chairing the Art History Department no less than four times, leading several important hires, technology and changes in the classroom over the years, and the lasting legacy that her and several of her peers have helped to build, as well as her hopes for the future of the Department and the discipline.

Henry J. Drewal

Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History, Emeritus

Professor Drewal discusses his background in African and Yoruba history and art, the history and role of sensorial experience in art, and the Chazen museum, and developing exhibits. Drewal also discusses his experiences living and working in Madison, as well as his work and relationships with others across the disciplines of Art History, African Studies, and African American Studies. 

Julia K. Murray

Emeritus Professor of Chinese Art

Professor Murray reflects on her long and productive career as a museum curator, faculty member, and key mentor for several generations of scholars. She describes details about her years of service as chair and working to expand graduate and undergraduate opportunities in the study of Asian art, expanding the program and cultivating opportunities to bring several new faculty to the Department.

Quitman E. “Gene” Phillips

Joan B. Mirviss Professor of Japanese Art History

Professor Phillips talks about his educational background and work as a professor of Japanese Art History at UW-Madison. Phillips discusses his work as department chair of the Department of Art History, department funding, and the role of the professor in a research institution. 

Ann Smart Martin

Stanley and Polly Stone (Chipstone) Chair of American Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Professor Smart Martin talks about the formation and development of the interdisciplinary Material Culture Program at UW-Madison, as well as collaborative projects with both the Chipstone and Kohler Foundations, leading to numerous major and minor exhibitions over the years, many curated by her students.

Oskar and Uta Hagen sit outside at a metal table, drinking coffee
Oskar Hagen and Uta Hagen. UA Image #S00224

The Oral History Program would like to thank all those who participated in this project. All interviews were conducted by Gioia Spatafora. 

For more information about this project or the UW-Madison Oral History Program visit Oral History Program or email Oral History Program head, Troy Reeves (